Catholic Priest Killed as Ethnic
Violence Toll Rises
Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi)
26 January 2008
Posted to the web 27 January 2008
A Catholic priest of the Diocese of Nakuru was today killed as
vicious inter-ethnic violence claimed more lives in the Rift
Fr. Michael Kamau Ithondeka, 41, was killed Saturday morning at an
illegal roadblock set up by armed youth on the Nakuru - Eldama
Ravine Road. He was vice rector at St Mathias Mulumba Senior
Seminary in Tindinyo.
According to Fr Simon Githara, the parish priest of Eldama Ravine,
Fr Kamau was accosted by armed youths who claimed they were on a
revenge mission after one of their own was killed in Nakuru. His
pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears as the youths descended on him
with crude weapons, killing him on the spot.
The news comes as other reports indicate that public mortuaries in
Nakuru have received at least 51 bodies and police are still
collecting more from around the town.
Our reporter in Nakuru, David Omwoyo, says the violence appears to
be revenge against members of the Kalenjin, Luo and Luhyia
communities following the recent killing of members of the Kikuyu
community in the Rift Valley.
Suspected Kikuyu gangs have taken over the town, our reporter says.
There are about six groups of about 1,000 armed men conducting
raids in various parts of the town. Businesses remain closed and
there is no public transport.
Police and the military are evacuating non-Kikuyus from the town.
Hundreds of newly displaced persons have sought refuge in four
Meanwhile, security sources say a group calling itself Kalenjin
Land Defence Forces is distributing leaflets calling for continued
violence against members of the Kikuyu community in the Rift
Valley. Kikuyus will be attacked even in their homeland in Central
Kenya, the group says.
In a Thursday report which accused the opposition Orange
Democratic Movement of helping to plan the chaos, Human Rights
Watch collected accounts from several Kalenjin men present at
community meetings where local elders and ODM mobilizers urged
Kalenjins to contribute money to buy automatic weapons. Some
communities had reportedly managed to obtain such weapons already.
The death of Fr. Kamau comes in the wake of threats to Kikuyu
Catholic personnel working in the Rift Valley Province. In Eldoret,
two priests based at Moi University escaped death narrowly last
week when goons attacked their house at night.
One of the priests told CISA that he and his colleague had
received several threats after violence broke out following the
disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. The priests were
successfully evacuated to Burnt Forest, a small town teeming with
displaced people on the Eldoret-Nairobi highway.
The late Fr Kamau was born in Kiambu, near Nairobi, in 1966 and
was baptized at Riara Parish in 1967.
He joined St Mary's Minor seminary Molo in 1986 and later St
Augustine Seminary in 1987, before proceeding to St. Mathias
Kamau was ordained a priest of Nakuru Diocese on January 9, 1993,
and sent to Lower Subukia Parish.
Between 1998 and 2002, Fr. Kamau studied scripture at the Biblicum
(the Pontifical Institute for Biblical Studies) in Rome. Between
2003 and 2005, he served in Mwaragania Parish and as principal at
Archbishop Ndingi Secondary School in Naivasha.
In 2005, he was posted to St Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Nairobi,
before being moved to St Mathias Mulumba Seminary as Vice Rector.